Hard to Hear

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When recounting in this week’s parsha, Ki Seitzei (23:6) how Balak hired Bilaam to curse Klal Yisrael, the Torah states how Hashem “refused to hear” what Bilaam wanted to say” — a seemingly superfluous phrase, considering the following one: “and He turned the curse into a blessing.”

Addressing that oddity, Rav Yaakov Moshe Charlop, zt”l, in his sefer Mei Marom, asks a different question, Wouldn’t it have been a better demonstration of Hashem’s power had he allowed Bilaam to utter his curses, and then simply negate their planned effect, leaving them to be a mere “barking of a dog”?  Why did Hashem choose to put blessings into the curser’s mouth instead?

Rav Charlop answers that a person who truly loves his friend will not even want to hear any negative words about him, even though they will not in any way affect his relationship with his friend.  And so, in the Divine realm, Hashem wanted to demonstrate that He didn’t want Bilaam’s words of cursing to even pollute the world’s air, even if they would, through Hashem’s will, have no effect whatsoever.

Which, the Mei Marom concludes, explains the seemingly superfluous mention of how Hashem “refused to hear” Bilaam’s curses.  He didn’t want them to even be uttered.

And that approach brings poignant meaning to the next phrase of the pasuk: “Because Hashem your G-d loved you.”

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